WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TX (KXAN) – Since January, every hearing scheduled in the criminal prosecution of Gregory Parris has been canceled, pushing the case into the 14th month of a pending status in the Williamson County District Court.
The county grand jury indicted Parris in May 2019 on two high-level misdemeanor counts stemming from a May 2018 arrest of a man on private property in Hutto. Parris is charged with official oppression and assault causing bodily injury. The arrest ended with Parris punching Jeremy Rogers in the face, then hitting him multiple more times while Parris was on top of Rogers on the ground in an apparent attempt to handcuff him.
The entire encounter was captured on Hutto Police Department body cameras: one belonged to Parris, the other to Officer Jamie Alcocer, who was on the scene with Parris during the entire incident.
Parris was indicted in May 2019; one year after Rogers’ arrest. Parris had Rogers charged with public intoxication, felony assault on an officer and resisting arrest. The next month, prosecutors dismissed each count against Rogers.
“In the interest of justice,” Williamson County Assistant County Attorney Brandon Dakroub wrote in the dismissal paperwork filed in Rogers’ case folder at the county courthouse.
Since December, five separate hearings in the Parris prosecution were scheduled. Each hearing was canceled and postponed. The latest cancellation happened July 7.
Julian Ramirez, the Houston-area attorney brought in as a special prosecutor in the case, told KXAN the delays are “routine” and deal with battles over discovery materials. Ramirez also blamed pandemic-related court closings for additional delays in the Parris prosecution.
Ramirez would not confirm whether he’d offered Parris a plea agreement or whether he anticipated having to bring Parris to trial.
“Mr. Parris has no intention of entering a guilty plea in this matter and looks forward to a jury trial hearing in the case,” Parris’ defense attorney Robert McCabe told KXAN. McCabe said the jury trial likely would not happen before the end of 2020.
Parris remained on paid administrative leave after being indicted in May 2019. The payments to Parris ended on March 25, 2020 after the city laid Parris and 47 other city employees off work, according to a city spokeswoman. The city said the layoffs were related to the coronavirus pandemic. But, the mayor admitted Hutto City Hall was in economic trouble before the pandemic for which the Mayor Doug Gaul issued a public apology in a video posted to the city’s web site the day the layoffs were made public.
A city spokeswoman confirmed to KXAN, Parris’ termination was related to the pandemic and not in connection to his criminal prosecution or the federal lawsuit Rogers filed against the city and Parris and Alcocer.
In a September 2019 interview with KXAN, Hutto Police Chief Paul Hall expressed his support for Parris and Alcocer’s actions during the Rogers arrest. “Too often we look at the one bad incident out of the 19,000 calls for service — 19,000 contacts — and we pick that one thing that’s less than 110001111%, so I want people to keep that in mind,” Hall said in defense of his department at the time. “There’s video, there’s an indictment in the case, there are allegations in a civil lawsuit — you believe those three things together may not tell the complete story?” Barr asked Hall.
“I believe it does not tell the complete story. There is another side here,” Hall replied.
Alcocer is still employed as a Crime Scene Officer with the Hutto Police Department, according to the city’s web site. Alcocer was not charged with any crime related to the Rogers arrest, but is accused in the federal lawsuit of not intervening in the attack on Rogers and of writing “false information” into the police reports that led to the prosecution of Rogers.
“She denies that she did anything wrong and is prepared to defend herself in court,” Alcocer’s attorney Joanna Salinas told KXAN by phone.
Parris’ next hearing in his criminal case is set for August 6 in Williamson County. That hearing is expected to primarily deal with the defense’s discovery motions, according to special prosecutor Ramirez.